Jack Levine was born in Boston in 1915. Early
renderings of his tough, immigrant South End neighborhood drew
the attention of his
teachers at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. His talent inspired
Dr. Denman Ross of Harvard University to offer tutelage, studio
space and weekly stipends to help nurture his development. Levine's
drawings earned him a first exhibition at Harvard's Fogg Art Museum
in 1932 when he was seventeen.
Mr. Levine's style was unique, raw
and explosive. He became well known for his unflinchingly satirical
eye and merciless portrayals
of crooked politicians, corrupt cops, and other players on the
urban stage. A formidable grasp of art history and technique
enabled him to achieve qualities of opacity, transparency and
that recalled the Old Masters he studied and greatly admired.
By the late 1930's Levine's brand of Social Realism and Expressionism
set him apart from his contemporaries and established him in
top rank of American painters.
While employed by the WPA (1935-1937),
his paintings Card Game and BrainTrust were exhibited at the
Museum of Modern Art in
1936. A year later both the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan
Museum acquired major Levine paintings -The Feast of Pure Reason
and String Quartet. The artist's first one-man exhibition was
at New York's Downtown Gallery in 1938.
Prompted by the sorrow at the death of his father in 1939,
Mr. Levine expanded the scope of his work as he explored religious
and biblical themes. After a stint in the Army in 1942, Levine
married the artist Ruth Gikow. They settled in New York City
where Mr. Levine continues to live and work. In 1952 Mr. Levine
subject of a major retrospective which travelled to the Institute
of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Phillips Collection, and
Whitney Museum of American Art.
A second retrospective of Levine's
work opened in 1979 at the Jewish Museum in New York and then
travelled to four other
In the 1980's Levine was the subject of the David Sutherland
documentary film Jack Levine:Feast of Pure Reason and a monograph
on Jack Levine published by Rizzoli Books. An exhibition
of Mr. Levine's latest paintings was held in New York City at
Payson Gallery in the spring of 1993. Mr. Levine was recently
elected President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Printmaking became an important facet of Levine's
work in the 1960's. Using painterly techinques of layering and
up of image
upon image within a work, Levine adds further character
and depth to his prints by combining techniques of etching, drypoint,
and aquataint. These prints display the full range of Levine's
imagination and give us another way to experience the impact
of his sophisticated commentary on our collective social,
and spiritual lives.
"I am primarily concerned with the condition
of man. The satirical direction I have chosen is an indication
of my disappointment in
man, which is the opposite way of saying that I have
high expectations for the human race." — Jack Levine